— By BRIAN SMITH
By a 4-3 vote, Parks and Recreation board members approved a user agreement between the city and the Weatherford Little League at a Thursday night meeting.
The original user agreement, which was approved by city council in January 2012, was for one year to give city and league officials a chance to work with the agreement and determine if any changes were needed.
Under the revised agreement, which is for three years and still must be approved by the council, the user fee would increase $5 to $30 for resident and $35 for non resident players. The city will be responsible for all water and wastewater fees with all electric costs, during the season, being paid by the league.
The league will take care of concession costs and pay for all large maintenance projects which would then be performed by the city. Under the new agreement, the league will submit all financial reports by April and have them prepared in accordance with general accounting principles, which reportedly was a problem in the past. The contract will also run from July 1-June 30 each year, which is more in line with the city’s budgeting process.
Board Chair Laura Anderson and members Kim Dietz and Becky Tripp voted against approving the agreement, citing the need for higher user fees, having qualms about the league honoring the agreement and wanting to make sure there were some forms of consequences for not doing so.
Tripp said the city took on the expense of the lights at the seven Fields at Soldier Spring Park with the understanding the league would offset those costs.
“I’m not seeing the league stepping up to make the payments toward the lighting,” Tripp said. “It’s hard to explain this kind of cost to the taxpayers.”
Anderson wanted to see a user fee being based on participation numbers, which have been declining in recent years and also making sure the league was willing and able to pay for the lights installed last year by the city.
City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said the agreement was not about the city or the league but about what is “equitable to the citizens of Weatherford.”
“There are times the fees won’t cover capital expenses and at times they will,” Blaisdell said. “We simply want there to be an equitable use of all the fields, be it for baseball, soccer or whatever.”
Board member Jan Barton was dismayed the original board vote of 3-2 on Nov. 29 wasn’t enough. The council sent the agreement back to the board at its Jan. 8 meeting for further study of new financial information provided by the league.
Council member Waymon Hamilton said at that time he was disappointed by the simple quorum and wanted 100 percent participation n the matter, but the council said a simple quorum vote was sufficient.
No date has been set by the council to discuss the item. The council’s agenda for the Jan. 22 meeting has already been set.